We all have a life story to tell. Mine starts when I’m almost three years old. My parents walk through the door with my new-born baby sister. I become a middle child. Sandwiched between a super duper bright older brother and a little sister who loves to be the centre of attention, I become an independent, determined achiever. I decide that’s what will give me the attention I crave. My parents visit an education consultancy to get some boarding school advice. Neither of them attended boarding school so they have little experience of schools or what to look for. They ask for a top academic school for my super-duper bright older brother who has ambitions for Oxbridge and then to fulfil his ambitions to become a doctor. Oh, and they need a school for me close by, where my little sister can join me when old enough, so I can look after her. We’re off to boarding school. My brother gets more A grades than you find in a bag of scrabble letters, goes off to Oxford – he is on his way to becoming a phenomenally successful doctor. I get average grades to match the average teaching I received in my school up the road from my brother and fall into a career in teaching. My Mum is rather good at it, so maybe I will be too. As a sports teacher and Housemistress, I live and work with families in boarding schools over more than 10 years gaining a precious insight into what makes them happy at school – why some are happy and some not, when they all have access to the same environment. I build close and trusted working relationships with many parents in both the UK and overseas, listening to their worries and concerns about the children in my care. I decide to use this much-valued experience to advise families on boarding school choices and join an education consultancy. I’m a Director after 3 months, running a division after 2 years and run the whole Company as MD after 5 years – the same Company my parents had visited 25 years earlier to ask for boarding school recommendations for my brother, with a school close by for my sister and me. I go it alone and launch my own consultancy Company. It’s our 10th birthday very soon. Finally I’m following my own life plan – offering support and guidance to families all over the world in a child-focussed way. All this brings me to thinking how my life story influences the experience I share with parents, enabling them to make carefully considered boarding school choices. The outcome a happy child and hence a happy parent who sees their child growing in confidence and maximising their potential. As a result of my life story, here’s a few things I’m passionate about when advising families on school choices. Each child is different. Consider each sibling as an individual. Logistics might be trickier with this approach, but all children’s needs should be considered when planning school choices for siblings. The average child, the child in the middle, needs as much focus as the very bright child, or the child who might need more nurture to succeed. We hear so much about the gifted and those who need additional support, but you don’t often hear about an offering to enable the average child to excel. Just as importantly they need to be inspired, stretched, and given opportunities to maximise their potential. What’s your life story as a parent and is this influencing the choices you are making for your child? Family traditions, the school you attended yourself, opinions of friends and family at supper parties and at the school gate, reviews in glossy magazines, focus on league tables and brand names. Consider carefully what kind of parent you are when it comes to school choices, what’s driving your school selection process and are you focusing on the right things to put your child at the centre of your school search? Want to hear more?
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How to make your child the celebrity of your school choice decision
19th November 2020 at 14.00 GMT